Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
It has been an interesting week for me. The week has been an exercise of an understanding of the legal process in American democracy. It has demonstrated, in my opinion, a flawed process of issuing permits for Dirty Coal Burning Power Plants in Texas. The result is the state government does not seem to protect the interests of the people who elected them. State officials are supposed to be representatives of the people. In this case they are not representing us well. We were unaware of the dangers of the proposed power plants to our health. As individuals the process makes it difficult to defend ourselves and easy for TXU to defeat the people of Texas. I feel like we are the stooges for their profit producing Dirty Coal Burning Plants.
I have also discovered that it starts at the top. Therefore one should never believe any of the campaign promises of any candidate. Governor Rick Perry promised us one thing and then fast tracked another. It seems to me he has no regard for the health of our North Central Texas community. He seems to have a high regard for the vested interest of TXU because “we need energy for Texas to grow”. We are not going to grow if we are the most polluted state in the country. It is possible that he does not understand the issues. However 15,000 of us have sent him letters about the danger to the citizens of our state. He has not responded. Probably the system did not get our pleas to him because he is a busy man. If he cares for the state as he says on his web site he would do what he promises to do. He should intervene immediately and stop the TXU fast track (railroading) Dirty Coal Burning Plants throughout the State of Texas.
On December 5 the Bells City Council joined the Coalition of Texas Cities to protest and stop the proposed Coal Power Plant 4 miles from Bells in Savoy Texas. TXU slipped its application on the proposed plant past most of the cities adjacent to the Coal Burning Power Plant without the proper information. Cites within 100 miles will be adversely affected. When you put all 11 plants together the state will be covered with soot and polluted with everything that is bad for ones health.
Somehow, the flawed hearing process is preventing a Coalition of 25 Texas Cities (with more coming on board daily) from having standing in the permit proceeding. The elected officials in these cities represent the people of these cities. They are acting responsibly as surrogates for the will of the people in their cities. Is it democratic to restrict the will of the people from being expressed? My answer is, it is wrong! What is yours?
This week I heard TXU’s public policy director argue the case for the coal plants at the Bells City council meeting. TXU’s published argument is lame. The presentation is worse. It is filled with sound bites that are half truths. The argument is crafted to have people think it is good for the growth of the area. In fact, it is bad for the growth of the area. Who wants to live in a polluted city?
The Savoy Valley Dirty Coal Plant is going to produce 160 pounds of Mercury per year. What does that mean? Let us do a little arithmetic. 2.2 lbs of anything is equal to 1000 grams. One ounce of anything is 30 cm3. It takes two ounces of mercury to contaminate a 20 acre lake. Each ounce of water weighs 30 grams. The density of water is 1 gram per cm3. The density of Mercury is 13.54 gram per cm3.
160 lbs of Mercury per year is equal to 72,727 grams. One ounce is 30 cm 3. Each cm3 of Mercury weighs 13.54 grams. Therefore, there are 405.2 grams of Mercury in one ounce of Mercury. One ounce of Mercury contaminates 10 acres of water. Therefore one years worth of Mercury from the Dirty Coal Power Plant contaminate the fish in 1,795.29 acres of lakes in North Central Texas. Mercury does not disappear so each year of Mercury contamination is additive.
The TXU representative Mr. Ross told us this is a clean plant because it has decreased the Mercury emission 80% from 800 lbs per year in older plants to 160 lbs per year. The 80% figure reduction is correct. However the Dirty Coal Power Plant is contaminating 1795.29 acres of our fish and soil each and every year. The TXU representative said we are trading in your 1974 truck for a 2006 truck. I told to him the 2006 truck is still a lousy truck.
Mercury does bad things to people as well as fish and plants. It has been found that the incidence of autism was 61% higher in contaminated environments as opposed to uncontaminated environments. School in the contaminated environment had a 43% higher need for special education classes. The result was a higher cost to the community. We know that Mercury inhibits brain growth. May be the increasing incidence of attention deficit syndrome in America is due to the increasing exposure to Mercury in contaminated areas. Maybe as people get older and are exposed to high mercury levels they lose brain tissue faster than people living in clean non polluted environments.
Dallas has been out of EPA attainment for 10 years. EPA compliance levels are too high according to the EPA literature and must be lowered. Yet our federal government has not lowered the levels to levels that will protect us. Dallas can not figure out how to lower the levels. After the new Dirty Coal Power Plant goes on line Dallas will never get into the artificially elevated attainment level. Some one is going to have to be responsible. Governor Perry has not responded the request for action from more than 15,000 letters voters have sent him throughout the state. .
How come? How come the same thing is going on all over the country? We are exposed to toxic compounds and get sick. Healthcare cost increase by 34 billion dollars. Insurance premiums are increased. The result is more people are uninsured. The $34 billion can be saved by our elected officials exercising a little civic responsibility.
TXU knows how to work the legal system to their advantage. They have spun the story to their advantage. We in Bells Texas are just ordinary folk who have little experience working the system. We have few funds to pay for expensive lawyers to defeat TXU. Our state and several local governments have not stepped up to help us out. Our Federal representatives have not stepped forward to help us and to date have supported the TXU application because of TXU’s promise of jobs and growth to the area. Who in the world wants to live in a polluted area where their kids could get asthma and autism?
Organic food farms, cattle farms and fish farms are going to be ruined in the North Texas area with this Dirty Coal Plants. It looks like our elected officials know what is right but do what is wrong for the people who elected them.
I believe part of the reason is because they are so “busy” in committee meetings that they make decisions on sound bites also and do not study the facts. We have to demand they study the facts. If they do not we have to kick them out of office. The ordinary citizen’s health is also going to be ruined. Some families in Bells have owned their farms for 150 years.
Below is the difference in emission between a Clean Coal Power Plant and a Dirty Coal Power Plant. TXU said at the Bells meeting there is no one applying for clean IGCC gasification power plants in Texas. I think that could be true. They also said they are too experimental. However I discovered there are 117 gasification plants in the world and 10 real North American Gasification Units. Three of the ten are in Texas. One of the three has been in operation since 1977. Please study the emission comparison from the chart below. The real issue is not the experimental nature of the plants. The issue is building the cheapest plant you can build to generate the most profit if you can get away with it because the people in the area are not paying attention. Where is TXU’s corporate civic responsibility?
Hooray for the Bells City Council and their standing up to TXU!
Sherman, Denison and Bonham have not seen fit to do the same yet. Few leaders in those cities have studied the issues deeply. I know their citizens will moan and groan after the plant is completed. We will all suffer the effects of the plant. These cities have to act now. We need to hold our elected officials responsible for there inaction.